Online shopping

Today’s consumers are increasingly time-poor and tech-savvy. It’s no surprise, then, that online shopping has flourished, with the latest data from Barclaycard revealing that online spending has increased 10.4 per cent year-on-year in June. Sharon Manikon, Managing Director, Customer Solutions at Barclaycard tells more.

But bricks-and-mortar businesses, rather than being left behind, can also capitalise on the demand for fast and seamless shopping. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, the past few years have seen the introduction of many digital innovations that can improve the in-store experience by solving common high street frustrations, such as long queues and complicated processes at the till.

Here, Barclaycard has rounded up a few ideas that retailers could explore to help meet the ever-rising expectations of their customers – ultimately future-proofing their business.

Digital stock checks

Busy consumers expect to be able to find what they need, when they need it. Barclaycard research revealed that in the past year, almost one in five (18 per cent) Brits walked away from a clothing purchase because they couldn’t locate the item they wanted in the right size. This is a common irritation for shoppers, and many would welcome ways to cut back on the time wasted searching for a certain product.

Our research shows that three in 10 (30 per cent) high street visitors are willing to try new tools to check for inventory while browsing. Options include mobile apps and in-store touchscreens which allow shoppers to check if an item is in stock, or order it for home delivery if not. Implementing these innovations would cut the need to trawl through racks of clothes or wait to gain the attention of busy shop assistants.

Smarter fitting rooms

Trying on clothes during peak shopping hours can often involve a lengthy wait. Because time is precious to today’s consumers, it’s no surprise that 29 per cent of people are put off from buying something by changing room queues. Businesses need to address this issue to keep them from walking out before they've made a purchase.

‘Smart’ fitting rooms promise to cut waiting times and transform the overall shopping experience. Developments in virtual reality (VR) mean that soon, shoppers will be able to see what a new outfit would look like without needing to wait in a queue – or even remove their own clothes. Our research shows that three in ten (30 per cent) people are calling for this kind of innovation on the high street, so implementing it could be a way to stand out from the competition.

‘Next-gen’ payments

The lack of quick and easy ways to pay can be a deal-breaker on the high street, particularly for millennial shoppers. Almost half (46 per cent) are now opting to purchase both in-store and online using ‘next-generation’ methods such as ‘invisible payments’, when shoppers store card details once on their device to enable quick purchasing next time, often through ‘one-click’ methods. Over half (54 per cent) also believe that cash will eventually become a thing of the past.

Retailers could take this opportunity to implement ‘scan and pay apps’, an example of invisible payment for the in-store environment. Barclaycard is trialling this technology with its ‘Grab+Go’ app, currently being piloted internally. After users enter their card details when they first open the app, they’re all set to make purchases by simply scanning the barcodes next to their desired products and clicking ‘I’m done’ to check out. The seamless payment function means they could be in and out of a store or eatery in less than a minute – perfect for time-pressed customers.

From making it easier to browse and try on clothes to improving the payment process, rolling out the right technology can vastly improve the customer experience on the high street. These innovations have huge potential to bridge the gap between a traditional bricks-and-mortar shop and the increasingly popular online store. Retailers that assess and implement the technologies that are most relevant to their customers will ultimately be the ones to thrive in the face of stiff competition.